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Thursday, August 20, 2009

HOM: It Was The Norm 1

Norm's News, that is. Bill Shiel owned it, and it was open 24/7. It was THE source for magazines in the valley and the lunch counter was usually pretty busy. It was NOT the Yuppified Norm's that exists today. Bill was a character himself. I still display a cartoon he cut out of the New Yorker and gave to me. Bill caught a kid shoplifting and took him into his office. He was calling the police when the kid picked up a hammer, clobbered him, and ran. When Bill came to, he went straight to the school, identified the culprit and had him arrested, then went to the doctor. Priorities. I worked for him for a day, helping him remove an old fire escape and running a few errands for extra money. He had me take his new little Datsun truck to pick up some stuff and sent me off with a dire warning about being careful with it. I drove through the lot and stopped before I pulled out into the street. WHAM! I got hit from behind. Panicked, I checked the mirror. Nothing! Hopped out, looked behind and under the truck, nothing. Looked in the bed -- and saw Bill's trash barrel. It had rolled the length of the bed and slammed into the front. No damage, except to my heart. (Two other odd jobs stick in my mind. Jerry & I each took on a few to help with expenses. He worked as an extra in one of the movies they filmed here and had a blast, though the scenes he was in got left on the floor in the cutting room. I worked for a day or two at Jason's Bakery, assembling what was then the largest oven in t)he valley. Crawling around inside it made me glad I wasn't claustophobic. ----- I saw Bill antagonize people just twice. There was a lady that used to come in, buy a cup of coffee and retreat to a table, where she'd haul out her knitting and spend the afternoon. Unfortunately she didn't spend it quietly -- she involved herself in all the conversations around her, uninvited. When several customers complained, Bill asked her not to do that any more. When she settled her bill & left, she threw the money in his face. Bill took a paternal interest in his employees, and when one of the more attractive younger ones started running around with a guy the Bill knew was a loser, he warned her that she was making a mistake. She didn't appreciate the interference: She quit. And went on to a short and disastrous marriage, just like Bill predicted for her. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)